Weekly Comment:
Keeping the Tradition Alive

Irish American Artists & Writers celebrated its 100th Irish Writers Salon in September at The Cell theater in New York. Photo courtesy of the author.

By John Kearns and Karen Daly, IAW&A
September 18, 2015

“…a fine green thread binds us together…”

‪– Colin Broderick


Irish American Writers and Artists, Inc. (IAW&A) celebrated its 100th Manhattan Salon at the Cell Theatre September 15 with a curated evening of readings and performances and a retrospective of IAW&A Salon photographs by Cathleen Dwyer.

Considered the brainchild of Malachy McCourt, the IAW&A Salons provide a forum for members to present their work in any genre – fiction, memoir, poetry, music, dance, film, visual and theatre arts.

Produced and hosted by IAW&A Treasurer John Kearns, the 100th Salon featured more than a dozen artists whose work has been developed over the bimonthly series’ first four years.

Special guests included George C. Heslin, Artistic Director of Origin Theatre Company’s annual 1st Irish Theatre Festival, who welcomed the IAW&A to this year’s 1st Irish Festival line-up and Anna McGillicuddy, Deputy Head of Mission, who represented the Consulate General of Ireland/New York.

The program included Sarah Fearon’s comedy routine that evolved into her play, “Ted Talks NYC,” winner of first prize at the Players Theatre Short Play Festival.

Fearon. (Photo: Cat Dwyer)

Mary Lou Quinlan read her early work on “The God Box” at a Salon in 2011. Her book, a tribute to her late mother, became a New York Times bestseller, website, mobile app, and one-woman play performed in the U.S., Ireland and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2014.

Mary Lou Quinlan.

Mary Lou Quinlan.

Maura Mulligan’s first effort at sean nos stepdancing was at a spring 2015 Salon. In the All-Ireland sean nos competition at Fleadh Cheoil in Sligo this summer, she won a third-place medal. Trad musician Patty Furlong accompanied Maura on button-accordion.

Maura Mulligan


Megan O’Donnell read several poems. An award-winning fiction and non-fiction writer, she is a recent CCNY graduate who studied with IAW&A board member, Brendan Costello.

22-year-old Megan O'Donnell.

22-year-old O’Donnell.

Among the fiction writers who have previewed their stories at Salons, Mary Lannon’s “Frank N. Stein,” became her first publication — in Story magazine. Tom Mahon read “Unforgivable”, a selection from his novel. Mary Pat Kelly, IAW&A Vice President and the author of Galway Bay, shared excerpts of her newest novel, Of Irish Blood at the Salon.

Two writers described the influence of the Irish American community in encouraging their work. Colin Broderick, author of two memoirs and a filmmaker from County Tyrone, is editing a book, The Writing Irish of New York. Honor Molloy, author of Smarty Girl: Dublin Savage, and frequent Salon performer, told of coming to America as an Irish child.

Colin Broderick. (Photo: NewYorkIrishArts.com)

Colin Broderick. (Photo: NewYorkIrishArts.com)

John Kearns and Honor Molloy. (Photo: Cat Dwyer)

John Kearns and Honor Molloy. (Photo: Cat Dwyer)

Every Salon has a musical performance. Contemporary singer Cathy Maguire was accompanied by guitar virtuoso Damien Kelly. Maxine Linehan sang about the trials and tribulations of living in NYC. Her song, written by her husband/accompanist Andrew Koss, debuted at a past Salon. Larry Kirwan, IAW&A President, premiered a brand new song, about his great grandfather, a Wexford sea captain, whose ship went down off Cornwall in 1898.

Cathy Maguire.

Cathy Maguire.

Author, raconteur Salon guiding spirit, Malachy McCourt brought the 100th Salon to a close with story and song.


Malachy McCourt at OWS in 2011. (Photo: David Shankbone)

Numerous other artists credit the IAW&A Salon for helping develop their work. They include John Brennan, John Cappelletti, Kathleen Donohoe, Kathleen Frazier, John Kearns, Maura Knowles, Margaret McCarthy and Vivian O’Shaugnessy. ♦


More about IAW&A Salons at the website.


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